Objectives: Assess incidence of conductive hearing loss, ear pathology, and associated communicative disorders in cleft palate patients. Study design: Retrospective chart review of 101 patients all treated at a tertiary facility since birth. Results: The median patient age was 19 years old (range 8-25) at last follow-up, 35% female. Median age of cleft palate repair was 16 months (range 12-60). Median number of myringotomy tubes was 3 (range 1-7). Conductive hearing loss (CHL) greater than 20 db PTA was found in 25% of patients at last follow-up. Severity of CHL was mild in 75%, moderate in 21%, and severe in 4%. Cholesteatoma was identified in 5.9%. The mean age at resolution of CHL was 5 years (range 3-19). Risk factors associated with CHL at last follow-up included middle ear surgery (P = 0.016), cholesteatoma (P = 0.003), and 4 or more myringotomy tube insertions (P = 0.030). Associations between CHL and age at cleft repair, speech impairment, or learning disabilities were not found. Conclusions: Children requiring increased number of myringotomy tubes and middle ear surgery and found to have cholesteatoma are at increased risk for long-standing CHL. EBM rating: C-4. Significance: Cleft palate children requiring multiple tube insertions should be monitored closely for CHL.
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